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The Royal Auxiliary Air Force (Hardback)

Commemorating 100 Years of Service

Aviation > Royal Air Force

By Tony Freeman, Louise Wilkinson
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781399062183
Published: 4th July 2023

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Owing its origins to Lord Trenchard’s desire to establish an elite corps of civilians who would serve their country in flying squadrons during their spare time, the Auxiliary Air Force (AAF) was first formed in October 1924. Today, the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) is the primary reinforcement capability for the regular RAF. It consists of paid volunteers who, at weekends, evenings and holidays, train to support the RAF, particularly in times of national emergency and conflict.

This has seen the AAF play important roles in the Battle of Britain, its squadrons claiming 30 per cent of enemy ‘kills’. Other notable achievements by AAF pilots include the first German aircraft destroyed over the British mainland and its territorial waters, the first U-boat to be destroyed with the aid of airborne radar, the first destruction of a V-1 flying bomb, and an AAF squadron claimed the highest score of any British night fighter squadron. It was an AAF squadron which was the first to be equipped with jet-powered aircraft.

Receiving ‘Royal’ status in 1947 in recognition of its contribution to victory in the Second World War, the RAuxAF also came to the fore during the Cold War providing home defence as the regular squadrons were shipped to hotspots around the world. In more recent times, squadrons and personnel of the RAuxAF have seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan

This book presents, for the first time, the history and development of all the squadrons and units that made up the Auxiliary and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, including the Balloon Squadrons, the Maritime Headquarters Units, Fighter Control and Radar Reporting Units, Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiments and of course the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

These devoted warriors continue to serve alongside the regular forces in defence of the United Kingdom, ready to be called into action whenever their country is in time of need.

"A most revealing book and a fine addition to a military bookshelf."

Aviation World - Summer 2024

“As I have previously said, what an excellent book! It is now listed and strongly recommended in the bibliography section of the information pack for newly appointed RAuxAF Sqn Cdrs!”

“Thank you for all you work on the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!”

Wing Commander S J S Talton QVRM AE VR - RAuxAF Deputy Inspector

"Thanks to Doctor Louise Wilkinson and Squadron Leader Tony Freeman for their hard work in actually co-authoring the book."

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester

"This book should take its place as a key reference work for any student of UK reserve service and wider military history."

MJ WADE - Flight Lieutenant, No 614 (County of Glamorgan) Sqn RAF Reserves

This book is a well researched and excellent overview of 100 years of service of the Force in war and in peace.

Overall Wilkinson’s / Freeman’s book is an excellent review of the AAF / RAuxAF to mark the centenary of the Force. I am sure that the book will be well sought after as we approach 2024.

R G Kemp Gp Capt CBE QVRM AE DL

Article: "The RAF’s supporting act always has plenty in reserve - Celebrating 100 years of Lord Trenchard’s RAuxAF"

RAF New - September 8th 2023

Review as featured in

The Armourer

For the first time in recent years, we have a book which brings together not only the whole panoply of the RAuxAF’s peacetime and wartime activities throughout its illustrious history but also the very rationale for having and retaining a part-time volunteer air arm. It also provides a wealth of statistical data including a timeline about the Force, its units and its people which is not readily available elsewhere. Inasmuch, it is a perfect point-of-call for anyone wishing to find out more about the RAuxAF and its achievements over the past hundred years and will undoubtedly be regarded as a principal point of reference on the subject for many years come.

RAuxAF Foundation - Gp Capt Richard Mighall

As featured by

The Royal Auxiliary Air Foundation

As featured by

London Calling, the journal of the London at War Study Group.

"Well researched and readable."

Read the review here

Battle of Britain Memorial Trust website

About Tony Freeman

TONY FREEMAN joined a RAuxAF Fighter Control Unit in 1958 and served as an Air Defence Operator until that unit disbanded in 1961. After a break to pursue business and family interests, here-joined the auxiliaries in 1983. Having attained the rank of squadron leader, Tony retired from the Service in 2000. Tony has published many articles on reservist matters in Service publications such as Air Clues and the RAF Yearbook. Since his retirement, Tony has been the instigator for a seminar by the RAF Historical Society on the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces at the RAF Museum, Hendon in 2002 and he was involved with the design, funding, building and dedication of the RAuxAF National Memorial at Alrewas in 2004. Tony lives in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, with his wife Jackie.


About Louise Wilkinson

Dr Louise Wilkinson was born in Malta in 1961 where her father was serving during his National Service. She joined the Women’s Royal Army Corps as a Data Telegraphist in 1979, remaining until 1982. Having then worked in local government, Louise gained a degree in Humanities in 1992, followed by a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. She took a post as history teacher at Grangefield School in Stockton on Tees, eventually becoming head of history. After retirement in 2011, she was awarded her PhD in 2017, this book being the culmination of her research and writing.

Perfect Partner

The Territorial Air Force The RAF's Voluntary Squadrons, 1926–1957 (Hardback)

To date, little has been written about the Territorial Air Force as a voluntary military organisation and no sustained analysis of its recruitment and social composition undertaken. Made up of three different parts, the Auxiliary Air Force, the Special Reserve and the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, these three separate and different groups have not featured significantly in existing literature. Current historiography of the AAF and SR is dominated by the experiences of Nos. 600 and 601 Squadrons, which were based in London, and presents a popular image of a gentlemen’s flying club, whilst…

By Louise Wilkinson

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